If you are a mother who is breastfeeding your baby, there are several important points to be aware of regarding your baby’s teeth. We suggest you talk with your doctor about your plans on feeding your baby, but there are some known benefits of breastfeeding. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, breastfeeding can help reduce a child’s risk of developing asthma, diabetes, obesity, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, and other disorders, but it also affects your child’s teeth – here’s how:
Shaping Your Child’s Bite
The first few months of your child’s life can dramatically shape their mouth for years to come. According to a 2015 study in Pediatrics, breastfeeding results in better development for your child’s mouth. The study found that babies who were breastfed for a period of six months were up to 72% less likely to develop crooked teeth. Overbites and underbites were also reduced. Your child might still need dental work later in life, especially due to other factors such as pacifiers and even genetics, but breastfeeding may lower their risk of requiring significant dental work.
Avoid Tooth Decay from Bottles
Babies fed by bottles are at a higher risk for developing tooth decay because they are exposed to sugar containing drinks. Feeding by bottle before bed can leave their teeth coated with decay-causing sugars. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of decay.
Don’t mistake this as a sign your baby’s teeth will be completely decay free. Breastmilk still contains sugar. We recommend gently wiping your child’s gums with a damp cloth. As their teeth begin to develop, begin brushing with rice-sized toothpaste on a small brush. Talk to our dentist about the best types of toothpaste to use for infants.
Keep Track of Your Medication Use
If you are receiving treatment that requires medication or take medication regularly, it is essential that you are aware of the effects the medication might have on the baby. Constant communication between you, your doctor, your dentist, and your baby’s pediatrician is key to staying healthy.
There are many benefits to breastfeeding your baby. Make sure you are keeping track of your own health in addition to your baby’s. Be sure to schedule regular appointments to keep up with your own oral health.
For more information about your baby’s teeth, contact our office.